UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping desperately wants to use anabolic steroids as an excuse to avoid fighting Yoel Romero. Romero will have a shot at his middleweight title if he defeats Chris Weidman at UFC 205 on November 12, 2016. But Bisping is telling everyone that he won’t fight him because Romero tested positive for steroids. That is fine except for the fact that Romero never tested positive for steroids.
“If Yoel beats Chris, I honestly don’t think I’ll fight Yoel, because he tested positive for steroids,” Bisping said on The Countdown on SiriusXM Rush on November 3, 2016. “I read an article recently that said that it takes years for the advantages of taking steroids to get out of your system. Just because you don’t test positive anymore doesn’t mean you’ll lose all the extra muscle and things like that that you were able to achieve. So I think he needs longer, I really do. I don’t see why he should be rewarded.”
Bisping apparently hopes he can get away with the false allegations by whipping up the support of the anti-steroid and anti-doping fans. The facts be damned. And it seems to be working. Everyone seems to have accepted Bisping’s erroneous assertions without question. Even the MMA news websites are giving Bisping a pass with the lie about Romero’s imaginary steroid positive.
The fact of the matter is that Yoel Romero never tested positive for anabolic steroids. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) did report a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy involving Ibutamoren, a prohibited substance under the category of “Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances and Mimetics”. However, this class of substances is pharmacologically distinct and not at all related to anabolic steroids.
Furthermore, USADA implicitly cleared Romero of intentionally doping. Romero denied intentionally using Ibutamoren and insisted the failed drug test resulted from the use of a contaminated dietary supplement. And while this has been the excuse used by dozens of athletes before him, USADA actually independently obtained the product in question, submitted it to a WADA-accredited laboratory for analysis and confirmed it was contaminated with Ibutamoren.
“Although Ibutamoren was not listed on any of the supplement labels, preliminary testing conducted on one of the products indicated that it contained the prohibited substance. The presence of an undisclosed prohibited substance in a product is regarded as contamination,” USADA said in an April 4, 2016 press release. “At USADA’s request, the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, independently obtained and analyzed the contents of an unopened container of the supplement in question. That testing conclusively confirmed that a supplement Romero used was contaminated with Ibutamoren.”
The product was “Shed Rx” distributed by Gold Star Performance Products. It was marketed as an over-the-counter and natural diuretic with the following ingredients: vitamin B6, clacium, magnesium, potassium, dandelion, green tea, horsetail, uva-ursi, sevenbark and buchu. Ibutamoren was NOT listed as an ingredient.
The UFC Anti-Doping Policy has a clause specifically for cases of unintentional doping like this one. Since USADA was convinced Romero did not intentionally attempt to use a prohibited substance, it reduced his suspension citing the mitigating circumstances outlined in the “Contaminated Products” section of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy:
“In cases where the Athlete or other Person can establish that the detected Prohibited Substance came from a Contaminated Product, then the period of Ineligibility shall be, at a minimum, a reprimand and no period of Ineligibility, and at a maximum, the period of Ineligibility set forth in Article 10.2 depending on the Athlete’s or other Person’s degree of Fault.”
Romero could have faced a two-year suspension if he was really guilty of intentionally doping. But given the mitigating circumstances in which Romero regrettably used a contaminated dietary supplement, USADA reduced his suspension to only 6 months.
The 6 month suspension was applied since USADA has a strict liability policy in which athletes are still ultimately responsible for every substance that enters their body even if, through no fault of their own, it is the result of a contaminated dietary supplement.
This makes no difference to Bisping. He still doesn’t want to fight Romero and he doesn’t think Romero deserves to fight him. Bisping may have good reasons to fear steroid users in UFC. He may still think that steroid users are “faggots” and “pussies”. But Bisping has overplayed the sympathy card of a “clean athlete” being forced to fight the big, bad steroid users. The moment he starts making up imaginary steroid users and lying about steroid positives to get out of a fight, that is when his credibility will take a hit. The truth still matters.